President Barack Obama unveiled and signed a plan to reduce gun violence in America. It comes a month after the tragic shooting of 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. YNN's Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Erin Billups has more.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Obama unveiled a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence Wednesday, based on the work of Vice President Joe Biden's task force.
"We must do what we can now," Biden said.
He's calling for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition rounds, criminal background checks for all gun purchases and tougher gun trafficking penalties.
Obama said, "In the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality."
To start, the President signed 23 executive actions, effective immediately, meant to equip law enforcement, schools, mental and public health professionals. It includes directives to federal agencies to share information about background checks and instructs the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence causes and prevention.
"As important as these steps are, they are in no way a substitute for action from members of Congress," Obama said.
The announcement was music to the ears of gun control advocates and lawmakers like Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, who has been fighting for tougher gun laws since her husband was killed and son seriously injured in a mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad in 1993.
McCarthy said, "To be honest with you, I started to cry, that we're finally getting to that point. There's only a limit [to] what he can do, the rest has to be up to us in Congress."
Getting gun control legislation through Congress will certainly be a heavy lift. Especially as gun rights supporters are already mounting fierce opposition.
In its latest ad, the National Rifle Association brought the President's daughters into the argument, comparing their need for armed guards to those of every school child. The White House said the ad was “repugnant and cowardly.” Evidenced by the young kids who joined him on the stage, the President made it clear he plans to mobilize public opinion to get Congress to act.
Obama said, "This will not happen unless the American people demand it."
Watch the full news conference: